Sept. 16: A Samata Party MP from Bihar was found travelling ticketless with 15 party workers in an air-conditioned coach of a Delhi-bound train during a surprise check in the Malda division of Eastern Railway on Saturday.
Brahmananda Mandal, the MP from Munger, refused to pay a fine of Rs 8,000 the checking staff had slapped on him and his associates for travelling without tickets in the AC two-tier coach of Brahmaputra Mail.
Sources said he also threatened the checking staff, including the additional divisional railway manager of Malda, Hemant Kumar, who had led the drive against ticketless passengers on the train that runs between Guwahati and New Delhi.
Mandal had boarded the train at Kiul station and was bound for Jamalpur.
Malda divisional railway manager Vijay Kumar Mangalik confirmed the incident, but refused to give details. “I won’t say anything about this,’’ he said.
The sources said the Malda division had informed the Railway Board of “the illegal act’’ of the MP and sought its intervention as Mandal belonged to the party of railway minister Nitish Kumar.
The sources added that the railway staff had decided not to conduct checking on running trains in the Jamalpur section unless the MP apologised and paid the fine.
However, the MP this evening blamed a “tussle” within the Samata for the controversy and accused Kumar of trying to “implicate” him. Mandal said he had a “valid MP’s card” but the officials refused to accept it. Mandal had recently written letters to the Prime Minister and the Samata president, accusing Kumar of behaving like a dictator.
The checking staff caught a total of 1,200 passengers travelling without tickets in the Jamalpur section that day and collected nearly Rs 1.5 lakh as fine. “Except for the Samata Party MP and his supporters, everyone else had paid the fine. Those who could not pay were arrested,’’ the sources said.
The checking staff had asked for tickets immediately after Mandal and his supporters boarded the train. The sources said Mandal waved them aside, saying he was an MP and had the free travelling pass. When the checkers asked him to show the pass, he refused, the sources added.
The Samata MP reportedly told the ticket checkers that the 15 men did not need tickets since they were travelling with him. Senior officials intervened and pleaded with him to pay the fine of Rs 8,000. But, the sources said, Mandal and his supporters threatened the ticket collectors.
The MP said in Patna that the ticket checkers misbehaved with him. Mandal said he had no idea that his supporters had boarded the train with him.
“The checking inspector asked me ‘who are you'’ I told him I am an MP and that I am supposed to travel with a coupon which I had,” Mandal said.
The MP said his supporters “adored me” so much that they had boarded the train “without my knowledge”.